Vegetable Farming Cover Crop Field Day

Vegetable Farming Cover Crop Field Day

NCAT will be hosting a FREE field day in Mission, Texas on Thursday, July 11th as part of its Subtropical Soil Health Initiative. This field day, focused on cover cropping in vegetable production, is being held in conjunction with the University of Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and PPC Farms.

The goal of the Subtropical Soil Health Initiative is to encourage the adoption of innovative conservation methods by growers in South Texas. We are demonstrating the use of cover crops and other soil building methods: identifying cover crops that will grow well in the subtropical Rio Grande Valley and demonstrating planting, management, and termination techniques. Besides growing a wide variety of cover crops, we are measuring changes in biomass, soil carbon, soil respiration, water holding capacity, and other soil health metrics. We are also looking closely at the cost and practicality of cover crops, including their short and long-term effects on soil moisture.

This field day will be held at PPC Farms, a diversified organic vegetable farm. Dr. Alex Racelis of UTRGV will discuss how to overcome barriers to using cover crops in hot and humid climates. Stephanie Kasper will demonstrate a process for verifying that legume cover crops are nodulating: converting atmospheric nitrogen to bioavailable nitrogen in the soil. NCAT’s own Justin Duncan will present his research on innovative cover crops for the Rio Grande Valley, including pigeon pea and scarlet runner bean. There will be a Q&A with NCAT staff, UTRGV researchers, farmers, and NRCS officials at the end of the program.

Light snacks and water will be provided and registration begins at 8 a.m. Questions? Contact research technician Lindsey Richards at lindsey.richards01@utrgv.edu. This project is supported by Conservation Innovation Grants Program of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service under grant #69-3A75-17-281.

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